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ZEITGEIST Book 5 Questions: Kell minigame and Team B

Echolocation

Explorer
Hi everyone,

My group will be beginning Book 5 in the new year. I wanted to gather people's impressions on two aspects of the book. If relevant, I run Pathfinder 1E.

(1) How did people find the minigame of scouting and raiding the Kell guild? Did the multiple mission system work for you? Did your players enjoy it? I've been unsure on whether to run it as outlined in the book, or work out some other 'narrative' system.

(2) How did you find the scenes with Team B? Were they will received by players? How did combat go? I've fleshed out the other constables quite a bit, so I think my players would be keen to play as them.

As a side question to (2), what stat blocks do you use for the Team B constables? The ones from Book 3?

Thanks in advance :D
 

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Crispy120286

Explorer
Hi!

My group also has just started book 5 so I also second your questions. we haven't even gone over the Kell Minigame yet at the table. I do think my group however would enjoy it.

For Team B I asked my group to generate level 4 characters to play at Team B which backfired as one of them decided to play a murderhobo style i'm going to beat up anyone who I don't like kind of person. They only played the very first scene and he Threatened the ships crew, attacked the bear, and talked down Brakken. I needed to remind him he is playing a constable of the RHC so i think im taking away Team B privilege's. I'm going to remind them that they're playing NPC's not Second PC's for these scenes.

I'm looking forward to see how things go with your group! Its exciting to be running at nearly the same spot as other DM's.
 

Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
The minigame
I used it to guide the activities my players assigned constables to the various tasks, but generally the more important tasks scouting a major base and definetly raiding it was done by the pc's with some back up, they also caused in military units for assaults. However I let them implement plans which did not fit the exact minigame and winged the results, for instance Asraby payed off his debt to the team by taking out one of the strongholds, they pointed him at it, he killed everyone and burnt the building down.

The B-team
I provided npc sheets and the team used them on missions they were not involved in, I think on a couple of occasions they assigned pc's to work with some B-team members to spread the abilities around when unsure of what needed the most attention, or if the Goblin master of the night was on a stealth recon mission the others would get in the way of I think they assigned a B-team member to the main group so the player was busy.
In pretty much every published campaign npc's are not up to the level of optimisation of my pc's the B-team was built to match those standards in the same way I rebuilt pretty much every npc

I did not let them design their own B-Team but I would have let them use one they designed if they wanted to, but I trust them not to play a random lunatic but instead a campaign themed lunatic . For instance the Dwarf cleric was played as a cleric of the god of Bureacracy and wanted paperwork for everything.

The B-team remained a presence in the campaign securing Flint in book 2 while the players were busy and helping liberate Flint from the Ob at the end of book 9 and 13
 

arkwright

Explorer
1) My players enjoyed gaming it. Chiefly by exploiting the fact that while NPCs can go on only one operation per day PCs can go on any number of operations, they were able to wipe out Kell's operation in a single day.

2) My players didn't much enjoy these scenes, I think mostly because it didn't really feel like they were advancing the plot since they as the B Team couldn't follow up any leads and similar information was available to the A Team anyway. Plus just a player style thing.
 

Veril

Explorer
The biggest problem is that the B-Team aren't the players characters. They haven't grown up with the love care and attention of the players. It felt like something foisted on the players to do and distracted from the main plot. My players want to play their characters, and weren't invested in the B-Team. The slaughter of the B-Team wasn't a particularly emotional scene.

I think if the B-Team had been featured in more scenes in each of the previous books controlled by the players and levelled up a bit, and had a link to the players main characters then it would have helped "ownership" a lot. The Players creating a 2nd character and levelling it up and equipping it. This gives a backup PC should someone die early or even want to swap characters.
The B-Team could have been Saxby's favourites
When RHC HQ was attacked by the shadowy people in the dying skyseer , having the B-team fight there holding stuff off until the players come by and finish them off. There are lots of threads in the Skyseer, the B-Team could have investigated one of them independently like the smugglers and boom, suddenly it links in.
The B-Team could have found Kaja in Digging for lies and then been driven off initially, then call the A-Team in or while the players were off investigating the ziggurat have the B-Team investigate the murders going on in Risur as a way to fill in A-Team in. An encounter with a horrific mind creature could disable them all with a suitable days lasting shock and awe effect.
In Always on Time the B-Team are impersonating the main PC's laying false trails etc. Denending on how well they do provide bonus gold to the A-Team (or at least present it as bonus gold).
 

Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
The death of the B-Team is optional , if the players handle taking down Kell well he'll never get the chance. A well prepared team with a decent plan can take him down and then have him interrogated with dominate or necromancy depending on how breathing he is.
If he had survived the ambush I would have had him try and kill the B-team as that would have made my players angry with him, but they did already hate Kell. If killing the B-Team won't bother the players pick a target they do care about.
 

Echolocation

Explorer
Thank you all for your thoughtful responses. In case you are interested, here are my decisions along with my reasons:

Kell minigame

I'll likely run this for the reasons others have highlighted here. I think my players will find it fun. I may add a constraint to PC involvement in attacks against the guild (such as once per day per PC). But, I will keep an open mind to unique strategies may players could bring to the table, such as involving Asrabey.

Team B

I can understand that other tables' players may not be attached to Team B. However, my players are. After The Dying Skyseer, my party commissioned a magical pen for Dima that would write her spoken words (I genderflipped Dima, as the early books boast a male-heavy cast of NPCs). I even added another member to Team B, the war veteran Pete Pottinger—a skald with a knack for telling foreshadowing stories. For this reason, I will have my players use Team B in the appropriate scenes.

I may give the option for my players to reconstruct the stat block of their Team B NPC. Many people who play Pathfinder 1E enjoy the mechanical complexity, so giving them control over class features may be a way to get my players better connect to the NPCs. I think I will impose a constraint that requires my players to still keep the NPC the same class (e.g., Dima will remain a cleric of bureaucracy).

The death of the B-Team is optional

I'm glad you mentioned this, because it was a lingering question for me. I'll see how my players feel about Kell at the time. I suspect I will go through with it. Though, I'll make it a skill challenge (which they will fail) rather than a drawn out combat. I'll be sure to impart knowledge of Kell's specific combat prowess and style, so the main PCs still gain knowledge that will help them fight him.

I think if the B-Team had been featured in more scenes in each of the previous books controlled by the players and levelled up a bit, and had a link to the players main characters then it would have helped "ownership" a lot.

The options you outline are intriguing. I'd love to hear if a group runs the earlier books this way. Unfortunately, it is too late for me.
 

Mrpereira

Explorer
The minigames in the campaign:

My players have not really enjoyed these, however the Kell minigame was the one that went best so far - they saw it as more of a montage of a sorts. The chapter 6 minigame was a disaster according to my players.

B-team:

From a storytelling point of view, it makes very good sense, but it seems a lot of players fail to connect to it. Mine didn't, and told me outright that they did not feel like investing time in playing the b-team after the first two scenes, and asked if I could do it as a cutscene/storytelling - which I did. That went down well, they got to see the story from a different angle while I got to play it out as dramatically as I wanted to.
 

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